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Americans are stressed and anxious about money of late. Being mindful can help, according to wellness expert Deepak Chopra.
Some 52% of U.S. adults are under more financial stress than a year ago, according to a CNBC + Acorns Invest in You survey conducted by Momentive. The online poll was taken March 23-24 among a national sample of 3,953 adults.
“A lot of people are fed up, they’re frustrated, depressed, they’re stressed,” said Chopra, founder of The Chopra Foundation and Chopra Global.
That stress, in turn, can create inflammation in the body and weaken the immune system, he added.
While meditation, comedy and music can help you decompress, becoming mindful with your money is a good way to gain control of your financial life.
Mindfulness is “a state of active, open attention to the present,” according to Psychology Today. Applying mindfulness to your finances means you are essentially paying attention to, and being present with, your money.
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For Chopra, the most important thing to know about money is pretty simple: Don’t buy things that you don’t need, with money that you haven’t earned, to impress people that you don’t like. That will create stress in your life, he said.
“Our culture is so used to being in debt,” said Chopra, who recently released his 92nd book, “Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth.”
To be sure, the average household with debt owes $155,622, according to a NerdWallet study. Those with credit card debt owe an average $6,006, the study found.
Instead, you should watch what you spend and try to save about 10% of what you earn, Chopra said. It’s something his mother taught him years ago.
“It served me well all these years,” he said.
“So be a little frugal in these times,” Chopra continued. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I need this?’ or, ‘Do I want this?’
“You know, wants and needs are two different things.”
When it comes to investing, try not to let your emotions take over, he said. The stock market, which had a dismal January and February, recovered in March. While April is an historically strong month, market watchers expect some volatility this quarter.
“People get nervous and melodramatic and make very irrational decisions,” said Chopra, and a member of the CNBC Invest in You Financial Wellness Council.
“So just be patient and don’t make any irrational decisions.”
Also, take care of yourself both physically and mentally. If you get a good night’s sleep, have healthy relationships with friends and family, exercise and meditate, the ability to gain financial success improves spontaneously, he said.
Most importantly, keep things in perspective.
”If at the end of your life, you say, ‘I made a lot of money, but I wasn’t joyful,’ what’s the point?” Chopra said.
“Joy should always be the No. 1 priority, and then everything else follows,” he added. “It’s called a top-down approach instead of a bottom-up approach.”
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.